The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) must deliver a safer, more reliable and more efficient Metro system for the Washington metro region to have a chance of attracting top-line investments from global tech giants.
“If we are to continue to be a region that can attract the largest and most innovative corporations, like Amazon, as well as the most skilled and talented workforce the country has to offer,” Federal City Council (FC2) Executive Director Anthony Williams told the WMATA Board of Directors, “we must seize upon the unique opportunity before us and act boldly and aggressively to reform the Metro system.”
Williams spoke at the Sept. 28 WMATA Board meeting on behalf of a coalition of 31 regional business groups, which includes the FC2, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the 2030 Group. Amazon has launched a search for a second headquarters on the East Coast, and D.C. is a candidate.
Williams said Metro reforms must include governance, operations and funding enhancements. “In our view, the problems Metro is facing today are not simply the result of chronic disinvestment,” Williams said. “While funding is certainly a significant factor, we believe that at their core, these problems are inevitably the product of a governance structure that, as designed, is fundamentally flawed and naturally leads to short-term thinking which leads to poor outcomes.”
Williams noted that the Board should be “right-sized” and members should be required to meet certain qualifications, such as expertise in transit operations, management, finance and safety. Today, Board appointments are largely based on uniform representation from the District, Maryland and Virginia.
In terms of operational reforms, the business coalition recommended that Metro revise its business model by extensively reviewing budgets and contracts. And Williams said any funding agreement must guarantee that funding is bondable and adequate to address the current and future needs of the system.
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